Today we’re headed back to the golden age of NASCAR for some thrilling action at one of America’s great road courses, Riverside Raceway in Southern California. You’ll agree: Now this is racing.
The late, great Riverside Raceway (1957-1988) some 50 miles east of Los Angeles produced some of the finest road racing NASCAR has ever seen. Virtually every Grand National race held on the 2.7-mile, nine-turn road course was a classic, but here we’re focused on the January 1966 event, the Motor Trend 500, a 185-lap barn burner that took over five hours to complete. (And if you like this race, be sure to check out the 1965 Motor Trend 500 here.)
As all racing fans surely know, the reigning king of Riverside in those days was local hero Dan Gurney, who won five times there in the big NASCAR stockers between 1963 and 1968. So we’re hardly spoiling the finish by mentioning right up front that Gurney won this one, too. However: Stock car legend Curtis Turner, driving another Wood Brothers Ford, gave Gurney a worthy fight, hounding his teammate until his handling finally went away and the smooth Gurney cruised home for the win.
While you’re enjoying the epic battle between Gurney and Turner, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for some other NASCAR stars, including the young Bobby Allison (who spun three times and finished 12th) and David Pearson, who qualified on the pole and finished second. Video below.